Skip to main content

Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

See other formats


CHAPTER I?.
THE BHAJ-MANBAL, THE BAN-JXTHA, AHB THE HOLL
NOT only the city of llathnra, but with it the whole of the western half of the
district, has a special interest of its own as the birth-place and abiding home of
Vaishnava Hinduism, It is about 42 miles in length, with an average breadth
of 30 miles, and is intersected throughout by the river Jamnna* On the right
bank of the stream are the parganas of Kosi and Cfahata—so named after their
principal towns—with the tome pargana below them to the south ; and on the
left bank the united parganas of Mat and Noh-jfail, witk half the pargana of
Maha-ban as far east as the town of Bakdeva. This extent of country is almost
absolutely identical with the Braj-mandal of Hindu topography ; the circuit of
84 kos in the neighbourhood of Goknl and Biinda-ban^ where the divine
brothers Krishna and Balaram grazed their herds.
The first aspect of the country is a little disappointing to the student of San-
skrit literature^ who has been led by the glowing eulogirans of the poets to antici-
pate a second vale of Tempe.   A similarly unfavourable impression is generally
produced npon the mind of any chance traveller, who is carried rapidly along
the dusty high-road, and <san scarcely see beyond the hideous strip of broken
ground which the engineers reserve on either side, in order to supply the
soil required for annual repairs.   As this strip is never systematically levelled,
"but is dug up into irregular pits and hollows, the size and depth of which are
determined solely by the requirements of the moment, the effect is unsightly
enough to spoil any landscape.   The following unflattering description is that
given by HOES.   Victor Jacquemont, who came out to India on a scientific
mission on behalf of the Paris Museum of Natural History^ and passed through
Agra and Mathari on Ms way to the Himalayas in the cold weather of 1829-30.
" Nothing," he writes, " can be less picturesque than the Jamuna.   The soil is
sandy and the cultivated fields are intermingled with waste tracts, where scarce-
ly anything will grow but the Capparis apkylla and one or two kinds of
zyyyplws*   There is little wheat ; barley is the prevailing cereal, with peas,
sesaraum, and cotton*   la the immediate neighbourhood of the villages the
Taminx articulata gives a little shade with its delicate foliage^ which is super-
latively graceful no doubt, but as melancholy as that of the pine? which it
strangely resembles*   The villages are far apart from one another and present
every appearance of decay.   Most of them are surrounded by strong walls